Seeing Signs, Being Signs
(26th Ordinary Sunday: Ezekiel 18:25-28; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32)
“As for you, you pay no heed!” says the Beautiful Lady, speaking of her efforts on our behalf. A little later, in reference to the poor harvests: “I warned you last year with the potatoes. You paid no heed.”
The attitude she describes might be mere heedlessness, a failure to notice. After all, how could Christians of such weak faith be expected to recognize signs coming from heaven? But that is no excuse, because they did not even care to see.
In the Gospel, Jesus says to the chief priests and the elders: “When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.” The chief priests and the elders were aware of this, but they did not see it as a sign, least of all intended for them. This is what St. Paul calls vainglory.
The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette state in their Rule, “Attentive to the signs of the times and after prayer and discernment, we generously undertake those apostolic tasks to which we believe Providence is calling us.” The La Salette Sisters are “mindful of the urgent needs of people contingent upon the milieux, countries and times.”
La Salette Laity, too, must be aware that times change. The charism of reconciliation is one, but its expression is infinitely variable. We need to pay heed to the circumstances where it is needed, and find the appropriate way to bring it to bear.
This requires a certain death to self, i.e., the acknowledgement that we are not all-knowing and the willingness to work together. This is the point St. Paul makes to the community of Philippi, and he gives the example of Jesus, who “emptied himself,” so as to be truly one with us.
The psalmist often humbles himself by admitting his sins, but today he asks God, as it were, not to notice them, as he prays: “The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not.” In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we trust that “He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way.”
When we are open to receiving and sharing God’s mercy, who knows? We may ourselves become a sign.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.